By George Overhill

18th Sep, 2022 | 10:14am

The end of the Leeds United transfer is looking worse and worse as more information comes out on the failed attempt to sign Cody Gakpo from PSV.

The Dutch winger was one of a number of attacking targets that the Whites tried and failed to sign when they were suddenly stung into action by Rodrigo’s dislocated shoulder.

Victor Orta had flown to Eindhoven personally and had a jet ready to bring Gakpo and his family to England, with a €43million offer apparently on the table.

The player supposedly had a late change of heart after a call from the national team boss, leaving Orta and United empty handed, but after new developments at the Eredivisie club more information is starting to come out which suggests otherwise.

After PSV sporting director John de Jong was fired on Friday night (16 September) it was thought the negotiations on Gakpo were part of the reason.

Director of football Marcel Brands has now come out to deny this, claiming that Leeds United never came close to offering enough for him, and worse, suggesting that the offer was unserious due to the bonus payments included.

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Voetbal International quote the Dutchman as saying: “I can say with my hand on my heart that there has been no offer for Cody to which the management or the supervisory board have said: we must do this.”

On the offer from Elland Road he said: “It was thirty million plus thirteen, of which two million were realistic. For example, we would get six million if they made it to the Champions League. 

“Bonuses are only good for me if they are realistic. This was the very best offer and we all said no to that.”

With all the optimism in the world after a good start to the season, United are not currently a danger to the Premier League top four come May, so including a bonus payment based on Champions League qualification is essentially meaningless.

Not only does such an offer suggest that the club did not make as genuine an attempt to sign Gakpo before the deadline as they wanted it to appear, but it risks irritating the selling club.

Chairman Andrea Radrizzani implied on his personal Twitter account on deadline day that they were continuing to push for Gakpo, with Fabrizio Romano since reporting that the Elland Road hierarchy is “obsessed” with the player and will return in January for him.

If there was a chance of that being successful it has taken a hit with the removal of de Jong as it sends United back to square one with a new negotiator, and Brands’ claims don’t suggest a man overly impressed by the Leeds talks.

His claims have to be taken with a pinch of salt themselves since as a club they clearly have some issues to recover from in light of the sacking, so how unified they were on the Gakpo front is up for debate, but is unlikely that specific claims about unrealistic bonus clauses are straight lies.

What Whites fans will be less than impressed by is the image portrayed that the club were willing to spend big money late on to address the gap in attack, when the net spend across the window ended up as negligible.

After leaving a big offer on the table for another fruitless chase with Charles De Ketelaere, the final week of the window was reached without a new man in attack and claims that there wasn’t much money available for it.

That they suddenly rushed things after Rodrigo was hurt was poor planning in itself, but to fail with moves for Jesse Marsch’s preference, Hwang Hee-chan from Wolves, Gakpo, most notoriously Bamba Dieng, and reportedly also Ben Brereton Diaz late on deadline day left supporters feeling disillusioned.

Willy Gnonto may become an important player, but he isn’t even a certain member of the senior squad currently, so he doesn’t compare to ready-made options.

Throw in the apparently unnecessary departure of Dan James and the final days of the window look a mess.

Whether it was actually Louis van Gaal who scuppered the move for Gakpo or whether the offers were never in with a real chance is now in dispute, but it leaves the impression, as with the de Ketelaere pursuit, that the Elland Road hierarchy would like to be seen to be stumping up bigger cash than they actually are.

In other Leeds United news, there has been no word from Marcelo Bielsa after the club sent him a request for permission.